Home > Haunted House (Krewe of Hunters #35.5)(4)

Haunted House (Krewe of Hunters #35.5)(4)
Author: Heather Graham

Living folks who did not live on her street.

All she could do was stand there, trying not to shake. Attempting to convince herself that she was a normal and rational human being. She was an adult—a young woman who had grown up in this town. And Salem was old—hundreds of years old—and the skeleton in her wall…it had been there for a long, long time.

But something was behind it. Something that had once been…alive.

And not that long ago.

She was on a corner. She could turn back and see the house. Find out if it had come to life, or if a demon glow surrounded it, something that betrayed the fact that it was cursed as the family who had lived there had once been.

Night had come, and the moon was high. A ground fog swirled in a soft gray mist. Caught in the silver mist and moonlight, the place did indeed look like a haunted house.

I don’t believe in haunted houses, she reminded herself. She had led ghost tours and had lived with the sad history of Salem all her life. There was good history, too, though. Change had happened because of the tragedy in the area. And throughout the hundreds of years, new generations had come and gone. The country had seen a revolution, a civil war, two world wars, and more. Whaling and seafaring had been big. Fishing was still a commercial venture. Now bankers, accountants, and people with so-called normal jobs lived and worked and raised their children here.

But…

She checked her watch. She hadn’t realized it had grown so late. Well, in the grand scheme of a night crowd, it wasn’t that late, but even in late summer, the light was gone from the northern sky by eight forty-five. She’d meant to leave work early while it was still light, knowing full well that she didn’t have electricity in the house yet. But when it had grown late, she hadn’t cared. The papers were all signed. The house was hers. She actually owned it. Of course, there was still a lot of work to be done because the place had grown truly derelict, but before the sale, the absentee owners had seen to it that the kitchen had been updated, and there was one bedroom she could use immediately.

No way in hell was she sleeping in a house with a skeleton hidden in a false wall, though. All she had done was lean against it in the dark. She had broken through, and then…

She took a breath. Calm down. Whatever had happened to the poor being in the wall had happened long ago. As to what lay behind it…

Maybe her imagination had taken flight. It was Halloween. People went creepy-crazy at Halloween. But…

She knew. She just knew. The skeleton was no prank. It was real. No matter what lay behind it.

Nope. She wasn’t sleeping in the house. She needed the workers to come in, but it was Thursday, and they weren’t due until Saturday.

Call somebody, she told herself. The police…

What would the authorities do about a body that had obviously been there a very long time?

Still, she had to call someone. Maybe somebody at the Peabody Essex Museum. Maybe—

A scream rose within her. A skeleton, even one maybe hundreds of years old, was one thing.

But what lay behind it…

The world suddenly seemed to be made of mist and haze. First, she felt a strange sense of withdrawal, and then she was no longer seeing through the eyes of another person. She was no longer in the body and soul of another—someone she knew. Her friend, Brenda Riley.

“Kylie!”

Kylie woke with a start, blinking as the images of Salem faded completely into the mist, and that sensation of being someone else disappeared altogether.

She didn’t know if she had screamed. She just instantly knew where she was—at home in Alexandria, Virginia, in the little townhouse she and Jon Dickson had purchased right before they got married.

And Jon was there. That made the world seem sane again. She was herself once more, and she was okay.

Because Jon was there, touching her, holding her, his deep blue eyes filled with concern, his dark hair tousled because…

Well, they were still considered newlyweds. They’d eaten the subs they’d picked up for dinner, and some silly thing had gotten them going. They’d headed up to the bedroom, clothing strewn all along the way. They’d laughed, grown passionate, teased and made love, and then…

They’d drifted off to sleep.

And in her sleep, that strange thing that happened to Kylie—the gift or curse of being in another person’s skin—had taken hold of her again.

“Kylie? What happened? Where were you?” Jon asked, pulling her to him and holding her gently against him.

She groaned softly. “I was…with Brenda. My friend from Salem. I was her for a few minutes there, Jon.”

It had happened to her before. But that had been with friends at a bachelorette party under a past life regression. She had seen herself as someone else, being murdered.

That was when she’d met Jon. He’d been on the trail of a serial killer. She’d nearly passed out in a pub, and they’d…

He’d believed her. And he’d found her some help. They’d had a bit of a rough go of it at first, but the case he’d been on had been strange and intense, and the resolution even stranger. But he’d given her the ability to recognize the fact that she wasn’t crazy—just part of humanity with a few extra rare and unusual senses. And she had been attracted to him from the beginning. So, they’d worked together, and from there…

She gave herself a mental shake.

“There are bodies in Brenda’s house,” she said, wincing. “I was…there. It sounds so horrible, but I was there, like before. I was her—or inside her, anyway. I knew what she knew and felt and saw what she did. She came in with her flashlight, so excited to finally have the house. She’d bought the place and signed the papers early and had just come in. It was dark, and she was in the den. She leaned against the wall and…it gave.”

“Is Brenda all right?” Jon asked. “Are you all right?” he added softly.

“Brenda is physically fine, just terrified. As for me…I think so,” Kylie said, just as her phone rang. Jon leaned back, and she reached past him for the bedside table to answer the call. He watched her, frowning as she did.

“It’s going to be Brenda,” he said.

And he was right.

Kylie had barely said, “Hello,” before Brenda started talking.

“Oh, Kylie, thank God you answered. I don’t know what to do. But you know Salem, and you know Brim House. I know you’re not from here, but you are from Massachusetts, and you’ve been here often. I mean, it was cool that we met at that party when we were both here from our different colleges on break. Not that that really makes any difference. But you loved history like I love history, and you have always known so much about the past happenings here and…”

“Brenda, what’s going on?”

“I bought Brim House. I’ve always wanted the place. It’s sat empty for so long, and it’s so rich in history and, okay, rumor, but now… Oh, Kylie.”

“What happened?” Kylie asked, looking at Jon. He was staring at her, listening. Then he reached for his phone, rolled off the bed, and stood to make a call.

Brenda continued.

“I’m sorry to call you like this, but you’re married to a man in the FBI. You’re not FBI, but I know you helped him during that murder investigation here in Salem. I didn’t know who else to call. I don’t know what to do. And I know your husband is Special Agent Dickson—I mean, obviously. I was on vacation in London when you guys were here before, but I heard all about what happened. And I did get to meet Jon at the wedding. Well…maybe he won’t mind if I just ask him what to do?” Brenda said, rambling and obviously frightened.

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